Air Canada will implement a series of measures to reduce barriers and make travel simpler, more comfortable and consistently reliable for customers with disabilities.
The actions being taken will accelerate Air Canada’s Accessibility Plan 2023-26, a three-year strategy released in June, and are intended to reduce or eliminate major sources of dissatisfaction and trip disruption for customers with disabilities.
“Air Canada recognises the challenges customers with disabilities encounter when they fly and accepts its responsibility to provide convenient and consistent service so that flying with us becomes easier,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.
“Sometimes we do not meet this commitment, for which we offer a sincere apology. As our customers with disabilities tell us, the most important thing is that we continuously improve in the future. We are listening to them and today we are committing to do better and demonstrating that commitment with concrete actions.”
Air Canada is acting to make travel easier and more comfortable for customers with disabilities. This will include working with the airline’s regional partners to ensure consistency. The following measures, which are fully in line with the airline’s new, three-year Accessibility Plan, are being implemented now to have effect and produce benefits more immediately.
The initiatives include:
Boarding: Passengers at the gate who request lift assistance will be consistently boarded first before all other customers and proactively seated at the front of the cabin they booked. Air Canada is investing significantly in new equipment at Canadian airports, such as lifts.
Storage of mobility aids: Mobility aids will be stored in the aircraft cabin when possible. When mobility aids are stored in the cargo hold, new systems are being put in place to track them in transit, including a process to confirm mobility aids are properly loaded before departure. Passengers travelling within Canada will be able to track the journey of their mobility aid using the Air Canada app. In addition, the airline is adopting new processes to load mobility aids in the aircraft holds to ensure our customers’ mobility aids arrive safely.
Training: Enhanced training will be supplied to improve all aspects of employee interactions with customers with disabilities, including understanding customer experiences in air travel. Air Canada’s approximately 10,000 airport employees will receive this training as part of a new annual, recurrent training program. This will consist of both soft skill and equipment training, such as lifting techniques. Passengers with disabilities will be invited to make presentations at employee workshops and provide advice on further process developments.
Responsibility: Air Canada has created the new senior position of Director, Customer Accessibility. She will lead a team to manage implementation of the company’s accessibility plan as well as provide a resource and common reference point for responsive management of disability issues.